Google Ads Taking Steps to Combat SPAM in Call Only Campaigns

One of the upsides about being a Google Premier Partner is that we have a direct line to Googlers to whine about terrible behavior on behalf of some advertisers. One of the bugaboos we’ve been whining about is law firm marketing agencies pretending to be law firms and competing with our clients for business. This has been true in local results as well as call only advertisements.

Starting in December (although our notification didn’t mention exactly when in December, but it could be as soon as…tomorrow) Google is updating their Call Only Policy with the following requirements:

  • Service providers will now be required to use their actual business name in call-only ads. Service providers can no longer advertise with a business name that doesn’t represent their specific business or clearly disambiguate from similar businesses
  • When answering calls from users who’ve clicked on their call-only ad, advertisers must begin the call by stating their business name, as it appears in their call-only ads.

Note this not only impacts the spammers but also legit businesses, as you now need to ensure your front desk answers appropriately. (No more, “law offices” as the salutation…which I’ve been trying to get you all to change anyway.)

You can check out the call only ad requirements directly from Google here.

And to all of you lead generation companies masquerading as a law firm…you’re welcome.

Google Ads Parallel Tracking is Now Required

Is your Google Ads account ready for the switch?

If you advertise on Google Ads, chances are you’ve received a message recently regarding their new parallel tracking requirement:

Dear Google Ads Advertiser,

You are receiving this message because your Google Ads account (Customer ID: XXX-XXX-XXXX) uses the tracking template field and will be impacted when we begin requiring parallel tracking in all accounts.

What’s changing?

Earlier this year, we introduced parallel tracking as an optional feature to improve your landing page speed by sending users directly to your website while all click measurement is processed in the background.

Starting October 30, 2018, parallel tracking will be required for all Search Network and Shopping campaigns on Google Ads, to ensure a better landing page experience for users. At that time, the account opt-in setting will be removed and parallel tracking will become the only click measurement method for Search and Shopping campaigns on Google Ads.

Next steps

Please work with your click measurement provider(s) to make sure that your account is ready for parallel tracking by October 30, 2018. Should you or your provider miss this deadline, it could potentially interrupt your click measurement reporting or cause landing page errors. If you are already using parallel tracking, you won’t need to do anything; you’re all set up.

For more information on parallel tracking, please refer to the Google Ads Help Center and contact your click measurement provider. If you have further questions, please reach out to your account team or contact us at any time.

Sincerely,

The Google Ads team

What does this all mean?

Parallel tracking is meant to improve user experience by decreasing load times. Data is sent through tracking tools while users are sent directly to websites. Bypassing the tools gets a user to the content a split second faster, but your tools need to be ready to handle the new system.

source: blog.google

If you are self managed or work with another agency, now is the time to make sure everything is compatible. Google Ads tracking templates can be found in your account settings, your campaigns, your ad groups, and individual ads.

Mockingbird uses tracking templates to help with click fraud protection and call tracking. We’ve checked with our providers and have been assured they are ready for the switch. For clients currently being managed by Mockingbird, we don’t expect any interruptions in service.

Google Ads Rolls Out New Automated Location Extensions

Optimizing your Google Ads account has become much more automated thanks to automated location extensions!

If you own a Google My Business profile that is connected to the same domain as your ads, Google Ads will automatically recognize that these accounts belong to the same business and will automatically create a location extension for your ads.

There are 3 main reasons why you want to make sure you have location extensions enabled for your ads:

  1. It provides more information to the searcher, making them more likely to click on your ad
  2. It helps make your ad stand out among other ads in the search results
  3. If you have multiple locations, Google will show the location that is closest to the searcher in your ad

This new feature is set to be rolled out at the end of October 2018. With this new update, it’s much easier to make sure that your ads are following Google’s best practices!

You can learn more about how to utilize ad extensions in the legal industry here.

 

 

Google Incentivizes Video Ads for SMBs with ‘YouTube Director Onsite’

Video promotion is a scary idea to a lot of small businesses. Most business owners will immediately think about the many complications that come with it. I don’t have time, I don’t have the money, and I don’t even know where to start, are just a few worries that instantly come to mind.  Fortunately, that’s where a new program designed by YouTube will come in.

It’s called YouTube Director onsite, and it is designed to help grow your business. The program is available in over 170 cities around the U.S. and is designed to help you leverage YouTube’s enormous user base. The “price point” is really the biggest selling point for this program. For only $350 dedicated to advertising the video on YouTube, they will make the video for FREE!  That’s right, the video is completely free, and your investment goes directly to ad spend.

How the Program works:

  1. Plan

    • A director will get in contact and will get to know you and your business. They will then discuss a script and create a plan for the upcoming shoot.
  2. Shoot

    • The video will be filmed on site and an edited final cut will be sent to you within 7-10 business days.
  3. Advertise

    • Put your new video to good use with the $350 ad spend on YouTube. A Google advertising expert will help set up your video ad and get it positioned to target the right customers for you.

Sign up for our Webinar to learn more about this program and how to utilize video to expand your business

 

Sources:
https://director.youtube.com/u/0/onsite/
https://www.blog.google/topics/small-business/youtube-director-onsite-helps-small-businesses-make-video-ads/

“Exclusive Legal Marketing” Loses Suit For Bidding on Attorney Names in AdWords

Another legal marketing firm found itself in hot ethical water today… “Exclusive Legal Marketing,” headed by Coety Bryant utilized Google AdWords to purchase names of personal injury attorneys to drive prospects to his site www.personalinjurycare.net. Aggressive – and many attorneys bristle at this – especially ads coming from a non-law firms – but not necessarily unethical. Note, there are numerous directories and vendors already capitalizing on lawyer name search via SEO – Yelp, Lawyers.com, and Avvo (I spent a good 3 years of my life studying name search there). Even Google’s Google My Business service is essentially nothing more than name search – especially for practitioner listings.

But herein lies the rub. The two attorneys filing suit, Schiff and Kurgis specifically noted that it was the fact that the marketing company wouldn’t tell the prospective client that they weren’t the lawyer in question. From Biz Journals:

“Schiff or Kurgis alleged that in many cases, those people thought they were speaking with Schiff and Kurgis associates.”

According to Avvo, there aren’t any lawyers named Coety Bryant. I’ll also note that Bryant’s website specifically calls out the opportunity to speak to an attorney.

As do his ads…

I dug a bit deeper and found some of his ads archived. Here’s an example of his ad biding against another personal injury lawyer’s name: Jim Adler in Houston.

Now it seems Bryant was banking some serious money with this approach – bidding on lawyer names, not disclosing who he actually was, and then reselling these leads to other lawyers. A little research shows his budgets exceeding $75K per month back in May of 2017.

My Take on Competitive Name Bidding:

Let me be upfront – Mockingbird raises the competitive name bidding opportunity for all of our clients. It’s aggressive yes, but NOT unethical (nor against Google’s guidelines, as long as the name isn’t in the ad…i.e. Coke can bid on “Pepsi” but can’t pretend the click goes through to a Pepsi site.) Not all of our attorneys are comfortable with this approach. But…if you are fully transparent about who a prospect is speaking with, competitive name bidding is an effective, albeit aggressive tactic. Additionally, you should bid on your own name (as Adler does above) as a cost-effective defensive posture.

HT: Gerry O’Ginsky

Lawyers of Distinction SPAM (Plus a Lesson on Useless Traffic)

I thought my expose on the Lawyers of Distinction Scam (in which my kid’s pet chicken, Zippy made it through the LOD’s vetting process) may have pushed them to quiet down. Apparently NOT. Yesterday, Lawyers of Distinction mass spammed thousands of Lawyers (and a handful of non-lawyers), falsely suggesting someone had nominated them for this bogus, unvetted, bullshit and otherwise misleading “award”.

How do I know?

Yesterday, Mockingbird’s site got pummeled with SEO based traffic to the Lawyers of Distinction articles we’ve posted.

Looks like an email was spammed out around 10:00 am PST yesterday, and many of those email recipients decided to undertake a modicum of research before plunking down the equivalent of a (very) nice car payment for a piece of lacquered wood and some self supplication for a fragile ego.

There was a smattering of web chatter about these faux “nominations.” Here’s Helen Bukulmez:

And not all “lawyer” nominations were even for lawyers…here’s a comment from Abby Peretz:

I received notification that I, too, am eligible for this distinguished “award!” Here’s the catch: I’m a law student. I don’t hold a license anywhere. My law review Note hasn’t been published yet (but will be soon!). The extent of my legal experience derives from a few very meaningful, wonderful externships in various practice areas, including consumer protection. Jesse’s email to me is a big fat UDAP. I’m tempted to pass it along to some folks I know.

I don’t know where all of these email addresses were sourced from, and I don’t care. So – if you ego is blinding your ability to connect the dots…no one nominated you. You are being played. You are being pitched an overpriced plaque that you have to pay for EACH YEAR! Still don’t believe me…come talk to Zippy, she can set you straight.

Part II: The Marketing Lesson

If you want more than a rant out of this post, here’s your opportunity:

I’m going to use this example to show how NOT all traffic is equal. In general, I get annoyed with lawyers focused on ranking reports (a useless metric for determining how well your site is performing). Instead we prefer to look at actual traffic. BUT…and this is a big BUT…not all traffic is created equal. You can see here that despite the massive influx of traffic to our site, we received just one single inquiry from the article – meaning just 0.035% of readers were interested in inquiring about hiring us.

It’s going to take a lot of readers to build a business on that performance. In contrast, our typical contact rate is 0.5%. So clearly not all traffic is created equal. BUT – and here’s the counterpoint to my argument – some high volume pages do eventually generate an inquiry. Note #3 in the matrix above: our typically most read article is a post about setting up a google email account. The vast vast majority of readers who read this aren’t lawyers; they aren’t looking for marketing assistance; and almost none of them are lawyers looking for marketing assistance. BUT…we did get one inquiry from that post yesterday. So…in summary, not all traffic is created equal; however, enough volume can eventually generate business.

FindLaw’s Atrocious Social Media Product

File this one under another egregious example of tech salespeople peddling overpriced, ineffectual products at the legal community. I spoke with an attorney today who drops around $1,400 a month for a bundle of services including the FindLaw Digital Marketing Boost and FindLaw Engagement Builder, and the FindLaw Social Media Marketing Tool. Now, I’ve written ad nauseam about the idiocy of most social media marketing in legal, so I was curious exactly what FindLaw is pushing. And for $1,400 bucks every month. That’s like having twins attend an overpriced east coast prep school.

So what does the FindLaw Social Media Marketing Tool deliver?

  1. It lets you schedule blog posts to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google Plus (and let’s not get caught up on the fact that FindLaw is still referring to Google Plus as if it’s a relevant product.)

 

If you really want to get fancy, this seems like a cheaper alternative.

Seems to me, the free Hootsuite subscription and/or a well chosen WordPress plug-in is more than enough. To call this Social Media Marketing Platform out as a separate, value added line item is ludicrous. It’s like paying extra for a speedometer on a car or laces with a pair of shoes.

If you’d like to prove me wrong, please do so…here’s a link to the Quick Start Guide: FindLaw Social Media Product. I can just hear the commissioned salesman pushing the transformative promise of social media marketing.

Just the latest example of a big box company taking it to lawyers who don’t understand. And if you think I’m overstating the case here, this proposal included a rate hike for his monthly website hosting – increasing by about $175 a month to just over $800 monthly. Oh – and that rate? Locked in for another 12 months.

Is Google Moving to Kill Retargeting?

This morning, Google announced an updated setting allowing users to turn off retargeting ads (which they euphemistically refer to as “reminder ads”.

“Reminder ads like these can be useful, but if you aren’t shopping for Snow Boot Co.’s boots anymore, then you don’t need a reminder about them,” – Jon Krafcik, Google

Note that in legal, these retargeting ads have been hit or miss – with some practice areas completely verboten due to privacy concerns (although some lucky PI advertisers still have been able to sneak through the Google ad review process. However, other practice areas that have a less personal nature (take business litigation for an extreme example), retargeting is incredibly effective, as the cost is extremely low to reach people who have already expressed an interest by being on a site.

CNN knows that despite living on the west coast, I’m an L.L. Bean fan….

Will this have a big impact? I’d say yes – Google accounts for roughly 90% of the retargeting market. However, it will ultimately be the ease (or difficulty) with which individual users can opt out of specific ads that will dictate the impact this change has on advertisers’ retargeting campaigns.

Another Problem with the ROI Metric…

Yesterday I wrote about how using ROI is an almost impossible task for agencies (ROI – the Marketing Catchphrase Agencies Just Don’t Get), despite the fact that so many of them use the term regularly in their marketing efforts. One of the biggest problems with a simplistic approach towards ROI is that fallacious assumption that your marketing efforts primary business metric should be to maximize ROI.

Why?

Because ROI is expressed as a percentage, maximum ROI should rarely be the goal of a marketing effort. I’ll use the simple case of YellowPages advertising to illustrate my point. Now, we all know that nobody looks at the Yellow Pages anymore. And nobody advertises in them. Like never. Poor starving Yellow Pages. This widespread consensus has led to rapidly declining costs for Yellow Pages advertising – the laws of supply and demand being what they are.

BUT

Some people do read the Yellow Pages. And that back of the YP book cover that used to cost $50,000 is now only $500. And that ONE client a month who called you that year because of that ad…generated a huge ROI b/c the cost of acquiring them was only $41.66 ($500/12 months). Yet a law firm does not subside, let alone grow on one client a month. So this massively profitable campaign, which generated the firm’s highest ROI across all of their marketing channels should never be thrown out, but it should never be depended on either. An agency following the “Maximize ROI” maxim from their marketing materials would have put this law firm out of business.